WHITESVILLE – The Raleigh-Boone Public Service District Board of Directors have confirmed that action has been taken regarding an approximate $400,000 federal tax debt, including penalties and interest that was accrued from 2015-18.
The debt comes via the tax responsibility of the sewer plant and does not include the water distribution system, which was acquired by West Virginia American Water in 2019.
Fiscal year taxes for 2018 have been paid, reducing the initial debt total, according to officials.
Board President Freddie Harless – who also serves as Mayor of Whitesville – stated that a $40,000 “good faith” payment was made to the Internal Revenue Service and that the board is awaiting information that will determine a final tally. Officials hope that penalties and fees can be waived and the situation can come to a quick resolution.
Harless and board member Matt Lively – who serves as a Whitesville Town Councilman – became board members after the tax debt was accumulated but have taken on the task of resolving it.
Harless said that while the IRS could forgive any or all portions of the debt based on a multitude of factors, it is believed that an approximate $67,000 tax debt could remain.
“We just don’t know yet,” he said. “I want our customers to know that we are working diligently to resolve this issue. We want to be transparent and offer as much information as possible and we want to provide accurate information.”
A “Notice of Intent” for a lien has been filed with the Boone County Clerk’s Office in relation to properties owned by the Raleigh-Boone Public Service District.
Lively addressed the situation by phone on Wednesday.
“We’re just awaiting the remaining amount due and what the IRS will settle for,” Lively said. “Numbers have been kicked back and forth but we don’t have that exact number in writing that we can confirm right now. We are on the right path but it is hard because our customer base is growing smaller and the loss of revenue is hurting us. We have a small system that needs tons of upgrades.”
Both Lively and Harless said that rate increases related to sewer service to customers isn’t something they support at this point.
“We just want our customers to know that we are doing everything in our power to clean this up and bring it current,” he said. “Having not been board members when this took place, we’ve had to do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions ourselves to identify just what took place and what we can do today to resolve it. I’m proud of the progress we are making.”
Boone County Commissioner Brett Kuhn spoke about the situation and what has been a long-term effort by the county to make a monthly bond payment of $9,476.82 related to the construction of the sewer plant in 1993.
“I can’t speak for Commissioner (Jacob) Messer or President (Craig) Bratcher but from my standpoint, the commission will do all we can to help moving forward,” he said. “We certainly want to see this resolved as this is an essential service for our citizens in that part of the county that must be preserved.”
The Raleigh-Boone PSD currently serves 429 customers, down from 470 in 2019. The PSD employs two full-time workers and one part-time worker that on occasion absorbs full-time hours when needed.